It’s dangerous just to live in Mexico these days. It’s more dangerous to run for political office in Mexico and still more dangerous to criticize the drug cartels while campaigning. This is what Alma Barragan discovered when she was a candidate for mayor of the small town of Moroleon in the central state of Guanajuato.
Open and winsome, she had just posted a notice on Facebook when a group of armed thugs appeared and gunned her down. She became the estimated 86th candidate for local elections on June 6 to be murdered by the drug cartels that rule Mexico. Understandably, more than eighty candidates for mayor have withdrawn from the race. Others have made their accommodation with the gangsters, and some have hired one gang to offset another.
It would seem surprising that the cartels would take an interest in a town as small as Moroleon. But no part of Mexico escapes their watchful eye. Any sign of dissent is quickly, ruthlessly suppressed. They are equal opportunity killers. No discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion or whatever is practiced. Just obey or die.
What is also suprising is that Mexicans still have the courage to defy the cartels. There are more murders than ever in Mexico, and they show no sign of slowing. The cartels are financed by Americans who buy their drugs in ever increasing number with deaths by overdose also rising in the U.S. The current uproar over border crossings from Mexico disguises the drugs that continue to pour across.
One Mexican congressional candidate has clearly campaigned on the issue. On a bridge connecting Juarez (‘Murder Capital of the World”) with El Paso, Carlos Mayorga appears in an open coffin followed by aides bearing flowers. Unlike other Mexicans, he is not permanently confined there – at least not yet.